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Summary: Even when we are not great orators, it is no bad thing to own the good news concerning Jesus Christ as a valid subject for conversation.

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PECULIAR PILGRIMS

1 Peter 2:1-12

Jesus told His disciples, ‘You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).

When persecution broke out after the martyrdom of Stephen, the church was dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria, the apostles alone remaining in Jerusalem. Everywhere the believers went they preached the word: they gossiped the gospel (Acts 8:1-4). Even when we are not great orators, it is no bad thing to own the good news concerning Jesus Christ as a valid subject for conversation.

After Peter's vision concerning the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles, it was found that the scattered flock had already reached as far as Antioch (Acts 11:19). Later still, despite Paul and Silas initially being prevented from entering Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7), Peter was able to include these two regions in his greeting to the ‘pilgrims of the dispersion’ (1 Peter 1:1).

Peter's first letter is addressed to those who have been born again to a living hope of a heavenly inheritance based in Jesus' resurrection (1 Peter 1:3-4). These are those who love Jesus, who believe in Jesus, and rejoice “with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

Based on this love of Christ, the Apostle exhorts his Christian readers to make sure our hope is securely anchored in the grace of God; not to be conformed to our old way of life with its worldly lust and ignorance; but rather to ‘be holy, for God is holy’ (1 Peter 1:13-16).

The author applauds the brotherly love demonstrated by the churches to whom he is writing, and further exhorts them to ‘love one another fervently with a pure heart’ (1 Peter 1:22).

“Therefore” - in order for love to operate - lay aside those things that mar fellowship (1 Peter 2:1).

Malice is ill-will, and the desire to hurt others. It must have no place in the community of love.

Guile is a baited line set to mislead us. It is a cunning deceit that lies, distorts the truth, and impairs our ability to share a reciprocal love one with another.

Hypocrisies refers to play-acting, a game of pretence, making an outward show without inward sincerity; feigning to be what one is not, hiding our real character in a veneer of religiosity. It is impossible to maintain the fellowship of love if we are not honest with one another!

Envies arise out of jealous longings after another's position, or wealth, or gifts. Envy gives rise to resentment. Love, on the other hand, does not envy (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Evil speaking here refers to the slanders which talk negatively and maliciously of others. It seeks to undermine, and stands opposite to the love which builds up.

It is time to grow up from such things, Peter instructs the new-born babes in Christ. Let's get back to basics. Let's get back to “the pure milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). The “milk” of the word is pure, without guile, without deceit.

It is wrong to water down the word of God. After all, it is through the word that we were born again (1 Peter 1:23). Our desire must be set towards receiving our spiritual nourishment from the same word. This is an imperative for life and growth.

In 1 Peter 2:3, the Apostle quotes Psalm 34:8. If you have already tasted God's goodness, why stop there? Long for, desire, more. Is it such a hard commandment to obey?

When we search the Scriptures, we are coming face to face with Jesus. Our method of study should not just be a learning about God, but a daily personal encounter with Him. We come to Christ as to a living stone, being living stones ourselves. In Him we are built up into a spiritual house. In this way our personal growth in love plays a part in the growth of the community of love. The figure has turned from babies to building blocks (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Peter draws a contrast between those who rejected God's chosen one (1 Peter 2:4) and “you” (plural) who are being built up into a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The plural suggests the priesthood of all believers, and the sacrifice is a living sacrifice, of ourselves, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2).

Jesus is seen as the chief cornerstone, precious to “you who believe” but a stumbling block to “those who are disobedient” (1 Peter 2:6-8). Those who reject Christ are appointed to a perpetual stumbling.

Having used the language of dispersion in his opening address to the Christian exiles (1 Peter 1:1), Peter now addresses his readers in other terms familiar to students of the Old Testament. We are a chosen generation (1 Peter 2:9), who once were not a people, but now are the people of God (1 Peter 2:10; cf. Hosea 2:23).

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